Visual Literacies - Scanning film strips + Animated Gif

From Help Wiki

Some things to know about the scanners and how to set up the film strip

The scanners come with trays for holding the various sizes of still photographic film, and there is a back light built into the lid which is usually covered by a white panel for non-film scanning. You'll need to remove the white panel from the inside of the lid to reveal the back light. I have made sure to leave a few of the negative trays sitting on the scanners for you to look at and use for demonstration.

Examine one of the film scanning insert trays and look for a series of small holes, above where the film would be held. (We won’t be using a holder, as there isn’t one for 16mm.) The area where the film is held corresponds to the area covered by the scanner’s back light, and it is helpful to note that most of the film holder trays are reversible (or "rotatable") so they can have two different sizes on each tray. The area where these holes would be if we were using the holder **must be left uncovered**. In practice this may mean scanning the film strips at an odd diagonal angle or a bit off center or a bit lower on the scanning bed so as to leave this space unobstructed while still positioning the film so that it falls within the rest of the back lit film scanning space. The weird holes have something to do with how the scanner confirms that the holder is properly in place. If this space is covered up at all the program will report an error with the scanner. A bit of console tape (but not any other kind of tape, because console tape doesn't leave behind any adhesive) might be carefully used to hold the film in place flat against the glass. I left a roll of console tape at the teaching station along with a film clip of a time lapse of a flower opening (which made a great gif when I scanned every fifth frame).

In other words the film should be flat against the glass and sit within the back lit film scan area but can not obscure the area where the weird little holes would be. It's a bit convoluted, but once you figure it out it's not too hard to work around.

Now step-by-step scanning instructions

Open the IMAGE CAPTURE application. The Epson scanner device will appear on the left and a bunch of new options will appear on the right. Change "Document Type" to "Film" and make sure "Film Type" is set to "Positive Film". Increase resolution to 720 dpi or larger. Great detail is possible with higher dpi settings but the scan itself will take a very long time. At 720dpi you can make an animated gif that will be roughly two inches wide.

Click "Preview". If the scanner gives an error it likely means that the film is not positioned properly and the space where the holes would be is covered. On a few occasions I had to turn the scanner off and then back on again after getting this error, so try that if the program stops responding after reporting an error. If the preview scan is successful and a preview window opens with a low-res image of the film strip in it then we’re ready to select the area we want to scan in high resolution.

On the preview image itself, drag one or more boxes around either the whole strip or just around each of the desired frames. If multiple selections were made click the “All” button in the preview window to select all of the scan masks at once (you can also select multiple masks by shift+clicking on each of them in turn). Click the "Scan" button back in the main window to initiate the high-res scan. A dialog box will pop up asking about file format and naming; the default numbering scheme (img001, img002, img003, etc.) is good, and of course the lossless TIFF format is preferable to JPEG.

If more frames are needed, advance the filmstrip on the scanner and repeat until all desired frames have been captured.

Straightening Images in Photoshop

The captured image(s) will not be perfectly straight, especially if you had to scan at a diagonal. Open the image(s) in Photoshop and use the ruler tool (which hides beneath the eyedropper in the toolbar) to trace a line along the top edge of a frame, after which a “straighten layer” button will appear at the top of the screen which you should click to auto-rotate the images so as to align them with the film frame edge.

If individual frames were scanned, crop the now straightened images so as to just contain only the frame area and then re-save the images. If a whole strip was scanned then you'll have to copy and paste only each frame area into a new numbered image document.

Create an animated GIF in Photoshop

Now tell Photoshop to (File ->) Open a document and select the first of the numbered (and now straightened and cropped) frames, and click the “image sequence” option box followed by the open button. Photoshop will now import the image as well as all the subsequent numbered images as a sequence. A dialog box will ask about the playback speed - 16mm sound film runs at 24fps, although the students might try out some other speeds if desired. If the timeline window doesn’t open on its own you can bring it up via the Window menu. Play the sequence in the timeline to confirm that the images were prepared properly and that the sequence looks the way you'd like it to.

To export the sequence shown in the timeline as an animated gif file, go to "File -> Save for Web (Legacy)". It should default to the gif setting, so you can then adjust the looping settings and size and whatnot as desired before exporting their animated gif! For looping gif, choose the "forever" option from the looping options at the bottom.